October 11, 2009 |

If you want a seat at the table, you’d better bring your chips

If you want a seat at the table, you'd better bring your chips

If you want a seat at the table, you'd better bring your chips

Agribusiness in general and the feed and grain industry in particular are no strangers to high-stakes gambling.

An industry that routinely deals with the vagaries of weather and the whims of a fickle public for its livellihood is well prepared for just about anything. That is, maybe, until now.

In this issue we cover the potential impact pending climate change/cap-and-trade and food/feed safety legislation could have on our industry. While we await further action by the Senate and Congress on both efforts, we clearly see this administration will be active in ag policy.

It remains to be seen how this increased engagement manifests itself in our day-to-day operations; however, the scary part, as I see it, will be if the game is ruled by agenda rather than aptitude.

For example, at last month's NGFA Board of Directors meeting, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack laid out the department's "Know your Farmer, Know your Food," initiative, and its stated goal to "reconnect" consumers to where there food comes from. While it is unclear to me where the masses have articulated their "disconnect" with our food supply universally recognized as consistently the most plentiful, safest and most thoroughly tested and inspected one would have to be blind not to see the ramifications for commercial agriculture.

Hopefully, those who actually provide the world with food and feed products will be afforded the opportunity to have an equal share of voice with policy makers.

Realistically, with huge battles looming over healthcare reform and operating budget requests, lawmakers will have their hands full, most likely until early 2010. That is why you should contact NGFA and AFIA, in addition to local agribusiness groups and let them know where you stand. NGFA upped the ante, making it easier to join their organization by cutting dues 10%.

Become actively informed on how these issues affect your business and, if you truly like high-stakes poker, when visiting with your elected officials, gently remind them that your ace-in-the-hole card may just be played in next year's mid-term elections. But whatever you decide to do, you had better be prepared to go all in in order to be fairly represented.

Now, who wants to gamble!

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